Gardener Stories: The Keys


“What do you see when you look at the world? What do you hear when you listen?”

I heard this line repeated in a sermon by Beth Jarvis years ago. I typed and taped it to my work computer. I have shared it, prayed it and tried to see and to hear in the best ways possible. Whatever that might mean. Seeing better isn’t viewing everything through rose colored glasses and naively turning a blind eye to brokenness, pain and injustice. The goal is to see better, not to see easier. Hearing better doesn’t involve putting on headphones with our favorite song on repeat. At least some of what it does mean is to see and hear more fully. Sitting in our family room my gaze gets stuck on the flaking and discolored ceiling from past water damage and I have to choose to see better. To lower my eyes just a matter of feet to the window that frames the mountains. Both the flaking ceiling and the mountains are real.

You might be thinking by now that you thought this was supposed to be about gardening. How is all of this connected? I am asking myself the same question and hoping in this reflection that I might find an answer. Some of what I see when I look at my garden is green, lush, varied abundance. Dew on leaves, bees in flowers, cucumbers hiding behind every leaf on the vine. I see fat red dragon flies, moths and so much more. In hearing, I am mostly struck by what I am not hearing. The lack of noise and clutter in the airwaves that opens space for the subtler sounds of birds, insect wings, the slightest movement of a leaf caused by a gentle breeze. In hearing and seeing better, I leave changed. I leave with new eyes and new ears. To see the lush, varied abundance that is all around me in the people I work with, in my daily grind.

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